Río Grande del Norte National Monument. Courtesy photo
Saturday was the fourth anniversary of the designation of Río Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico. From the tops of Cerro de la Olla and Ute Mountain, to the depths of the Rio Grande Gorge, the Río Grande del Norte is one of the most
spectacular places on earth. The historic monument designation wasdirect result of the tireless efforts of our local community who were dedicated to protecting this area for future generations and recognized its enormous potential as a destination for both locals and visitors from around the world.
While we should rightly celebrate the success of the Río Grande del Norte, we all know that our nation’s conservation legacy faces new threats under the Trump administration. Extreme public land opponents have cynically called on President Trump to overturn the Antiquities Act and rescind our national monuments. This would erase places like Río Grande del Norte and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monuments in New Mexico and the new Bears Ears National Monument in the Four Corners region of Utah from the map.
Last month, in response to this mounting campaign by Republicans in Congress to revoke national monuments and pass public land giveaway bills, I was proud to join tribal leaders, conservationists, and local business owners in Taos to stand up for the Río Grande del Norte and all of our public lands in New Mexico and across the country.
Rescinding our national monuments would devastate our thriving outdoor recreation economy, which generates 68,000 jobs and $6.1 billion of annual economic activity in New Mexico. Whenever I am in Taos, I hear from the community about how the Río Grande del Norte National Monument is good for business. A few of those stories from local businesses were highlighted by the Partnership for Responsible Business New Mexico here.
Selling off our public lands would result in a proliferation of locked gates and “No Trespassing” signs in places that have been open to the public and used for generations by New Mexico families to fill freezers with meat and warm homes with piñon and juniper. Like many New Mexicans, the best days of my life have been in our incredible public lands. I remember fondly the first time I went backpacking with my wife, Julie, in the Pecos Wilderness, our engagement after a weekend at Taos Ski Valley, my first elk hunt in the Carson National Forest, rafting trips with friends in the Rio Grande, and the first time I helped my sons catch a trout. Thanks to our public lands, these types of experiences are open to each of us, regardless of the size of our checking accounts.
I remain deeply committed to standing with New Mexicans to protect and conserve our public lands, watersheds, and wildlife for all to enjoy. I can’t think of anything more fundamentally American than defending the land we all own and love.